Policy - Academic Program Review
This is a summary of the Policy on Academic Program Review. Click here to view the official policy in its entirety in the UW-Madison Policy Library. Please also refer to the Academic Program Review website for more details on the review process, procedures, and timeline, as well as helpful templates and data resources.
Rationale/Purpose of the Policy
Academic program review provides a valuable and periodic opportunity to assess each academic program’s quality and effectiveness, stimulate planning and continuous improvement, and encourage strategic development. It also provides the opportunity to examine program strengths, deficiencies, relevance, and goals. Program review fulfills accreditation and state requirements and assures institutional quality to students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni, and other stakeholders. It is essential that the university, schools and colleges, departments, and programs make appropriate use of the results.
Both the UW System Board of Regents and the Higher Learning Commission (the university’s accrediting body) require a regular practice of program review and reporting. This policy establishes the structure and procedures for academic program review within an established timetable and states the requirement for annual reports to the University Academic Planning Council and the UW System Board of Regents. The procedures presented on the university’s academic program review website define the process by which program review is completed at UW-Madison.
The academic program review policy applies to all academic programs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Degree/major programs (i.e., academic plans), named options (i.e., academic subplans), certificate programs (undergraduate, graduate/professional, and capstones), and minors are subject to the program review policy.
The responsibility for academic program review rests primarily with the deans, as the school/college chief executive and chief academic officer (per Faculty Policies and Procedures, 3.01, 3.08). Program review is coordinated by Academic Planning and Institutional Research (APIR) acting for the Office of the Provost.
All academic programs, including degree/majors (i.e., academic plans), named options (i.e., academic subplans), certificate programs (i.e., undergraduate, graduate/professional, and capstone), and minors must be reviewed at least once every ten years.
The first review for new academic programs (i.e., degrees/majors, named options, certificates, and minors) is required five years after implementation. The date for the five-year review is set at the time of initial program
approval and implementation. (Note: After the initial five-year review, named options are reviewed with their corresponding degree/major on the ten-year cycle.)
After the initial five-year review, continuing academic programs must complete a program review at least once every ten years.
The Graduate Faculty Executive Committee (GFEC) also requires a Three-Year Check-In report three years after implementation of graduate-level programs (i.e., degree/majors, named options, certificates, and minors).
Interim/additional reviews can be required by school/college deans and/or the Office of the Provost as necessary to ensure the university is achieving and maintaining high quality academic programs.
Programs with Specialized Accreditation
For programs with specialized accreditation (e.g., business, engineering, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, law, and veterinary medicine), the accreditation review meets the university’s requirement for academic program review. The dean must still prepare a final summary of the review and submit that summary with the self-study report as submitted to the accrediting body, the accrediting body’s review committee report/findings, and any response submitted by the school/college/program. These documents should be sent to the Office of the Provost (copy to the director of Academic Planning and Institutional Research) and, for graduate program reviews, the dean of the Graduate School.
Because accreditation review does not address all the issues of interest to the Graduate School, graduate-level programs with specialized accreditation must also complete the Graduate School’s Supplementary Graduate Program Review Process in conjunction with the accreditation review.
Components of Review
The core components of a typical program review include a self-study report prepared by the program’s faculty, an external review and written report prepared by the review committee, a discussion of the review involving faculty in the program’s department and school/college, and a final summary of the review from the dean (or dean’s designee) submitted to the Office of the Provost and Graduate School (as applicable, for graduate-level programs).
On an annual basis, the Office of the Provost will submit an Academic Program Review Annual Report to the University Academic Planning Council. The report will include a list of the prior year’s and upcoming reviews, as well as a status report on the review of any programs that were identified as low-award producing in the prior year. A similar annual report will be provided to the UW System Office of Academic Programs and Faculty Advancement (APFA) to satisfy the UW System Board of Regents mandate and to meet the requirement for institutional accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission. Content for these reports is compiled from Academic Planning and Institutional Research (APIR) records, as well as annual (May) and mid-year (January) program review update requests submitted to dean’s offices from APIR.
Requirement for Compliance
For academic departments to advance proposals for new academic programs and/or academic program changes, all programs within the department must be up to date on academic program review. Compliance with the academic program review requirement is an indication of the department’s capacity to evaluate and maintain program quality and effectiveness.
Related UW–Madison Policies
Related UW–Madison Documents, Web Pages, or Other Resources
05/19/2022: Policy revision with separate procedures established by UAPC
06/16/2016: Updated guidelines adopted by UAPC
02/21/2013: Administrative revision to merge UAPC and Graduate School guidelines
06/01/2010: New guidelines adopted by UAPC